Jim Monson is a do-it-yourself kind of racer who over the years of building, tuning and driving Mustangs has a reliable and consistent NMRA Pro Outlaw 10.5 car.
At the recent Milan NMRA event, Monson, may not have been the quickest Mustang in the field but he used bracket-car consistency to make it to the finals to face the 10-time champ, Mike Murillo. When quicker qualified cars like AJ Powell and Keith Neal had issues in the other lane, Monson motored on to take the win light and advanced to the Milan Pro Outlaw finals. Monson’s 7.30 et was no match for Murillo’s blistering 6.82 et but Monson was pleased with making it past some heavy NMRA hitters.
At the recent NMRA race at Milan, Monson made it to the finals against Mike Murillo
YouTube video from Monson’s in-car from the Milan finals against Mike Murillo.
Jim’s racing career started with a stock 1991 Mustang GT at the now defunct Detroit Dragway. As Jim’s wrenching and driving skills progressed, so did the ETs of his Fox-bodied Mustang. The fourteen-second elapsed times began to drop down to the twelves, then tens and soon eight-second runs were the norm – with the addition of nitrous and some chassis/suspension updates.
After maxing out the performance of his streetable 1991 hatch, Jim soon realized he needed a new car to go NMRA Outlaw 10.5 and NMCA Super Street racing. Sticking with what he knew and what was affordable, he found a beater 1987 notchback in Georgia for $800 and ordered a Chassis Engineering kit to start his 25.2 legal project.
Once the pre-bent kit was unpacked and chalk lines marked on the garage floor, he began his first serious chassis build. Starting in 2000, it took a year to construct the current car; Jim notched, fitted and welded the tubes to form the backbone of the car you see to today. When he got lost, a simple call to Chassis Engineering was all it took to get questions answered and problems solved. After completing the chassis, Jim worked with ATTAC Race Cars on the interior tin fitment and wheelie bars. ATTAC engineered each panel to be removable in the event something needs to be serviced.
A 106mm Supernatural Turbo recovers energy from spent exhaust and pumps cold air into the 407 ci small block Ford.
After the rolling chassis was complete, Jim’s next task was to build the bullet that would power the 7-second beast. After years on running nitrous and pulling scorched pistons, Jim decided to go the single turbo/small block Ford route.
Jim worked with Scott Brown from Competition Components on the 407 ci engine combination. Monson went with aDart cast-iron 351 block and Brown helped Monson with the piston and rod configuration. To top off the short block, Monson found a set of used Yates C-3 heads on EBay and built/welded the custom headers himself. Once all the parts were acquired, Monson built the entire engine in his garage.
Jim works with Don Bailey on tuning the FAST Engine Management System. At the recent Milan NMRA event, the addition of an AMS1000 boost controller made a big difference in the cars performance.
For the power adder, Jim selected a 106mm Supernatural Turbo and he works closely with the Pelham, Alabama based turbo company on maximizing the performance of the unit and the application of boost. Monson’s car is a test bed for any new ideas or parts Supernatural Turbo wants to try and the technology transfer has benefitted both parties.
An air-to-water intercooler rides shotgun with Jim as it cools the hot air from the turbo before it enters the throttle body.
To help the turbo talk to the engine and transmission, Monson works with Don Bailey and the FAST engine management system. Bailey is in an elite group of tuners that can make a turbo car competitive. Monson credits Bailey’s ability to make the car consistent in 2009 as a reason for his success. A new purchase for 2009, based on Bailey’s advice, was a new AMS1000 boost controller. At Milan, Monson was amazed at how easy the car drove down the track with the progressive boost controller.
Applying the power to the rear Mickey Thompson’s is a Hutch’s Powerglide Transmission. Hutch’s, based in London, Ontario Canada, specializes in automatic transmissions for high horsepower applications.
For safety, NMRA requires all turbo powered cars to have dual calipers on the rear brakes. Monson credits Gilsbach Racecraft with suspension help on the car.
When asked about the challenges of driving a turbo Outlaw 10.5 car Monson ran off a checklist of things to consider including, setting up the boost controller, tuning the engine to match changing conditions, staging the car consistently, treating the transmission with respect and keeping it in the narrow and ever changing groove.
Jim Monson races for fun, the adrenalin rush and his desire to make a car he built go quicker.
For the rest of 2009, Monson plans to race locally and continue to work on his single turbo small block combination. He will be keeping a close eye on the guys running the big block / twin turbo set-up and lobby the NMRA for parity if the single turbo loses its ability to run with Mike Murillo and Conrad Scarry. Monson national event plans include the August NMCA race at Milan and a trip south to one of his favorite events, the NMRA finals at Bowling Green, KY.